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This weekend I took some video of the wild flowers in bloom out in the desert and the video files are absolutely huge. While I keep some video file to be used later as stock, other files I just keep for memories. In those situations, I don't need a full 4K version with huge file sizes. Instead, I simply need a version that is portable and mobile friendly to share with friends. Here's how you can take those files and make them smaller so they are more mobile friendly.

Assuming you want to keep all the videos (and maybe even add more), you may want to compress the file size of your videos. By reducing the file size you should free up storage space, and be able to store more videos overall.

If that has piqued your interest, you should know that there are two main ways that you can compress videos for mobile devices.


Convert the Video Codec to Improve Compression

The video codec that is used in the format is the part that determines how the video’s data is compressed – and some codecs provide improved compression compared to others.

However to compress videos for mobile devices in this way isn’t as simple as just choosing the codec with the best compression. Instead, you need to consider whether or not it is compatible and has hardware support on the device it will be viewed on.

As you can imagine that complicates affairs quite a bit. In practice however you can just look at the popular options and determine which one fits:

  • HEVC (H.265) can compress your video files very well, but because it is a newer codec (and for other reasons) it isn’t as widely-supported. If you’re using a new Android or iOS device it is probably supported however, in which case you should definitely use it for any videos.
  • H.264 is the predecessor to H.265 and its compression isn’t as good. However it is supported by almost all mobile devices, which makes it a safe option. If your video is using an older codec such as MPEG-4, DivX and so on – converting to H.264 can significantly reduce its file size.

The main benefit of compressing videos by converting the codec is that the quality of your video should be unaffected. In other words you’ll end up with a video that has a smaller file size but the exact same quality.


Reduce the Video Bitrate

The other way to compress videos for mobile devices is to reduce the video bitrate. Unfortunately this will affect the quality, which is why you need to be careful if you use it.

Simply put the higher your video bitrate the more data the video will use for each second of video, and the better its quality will generally be. As you lower the bitrate the quality will deteriorate, and compression artifacts will begin to pop up in your video.

The optimal bitrate of videos will depend on several factors, including the video codec that is used to compress them as well as the resolution, and frame rate. It is best to reduce the bitrate gradually however, and test how it affects the video quality as you do.


For videos in most other formats, just converting them to MP4 with H.264 can work wonders and help to reduce their file size. For example you could use Online Video Converter to do that quickly and see for yourself the impact that it has.

That being said if you want your videos to be as compressed as possible, you should try using the steps described above. Be sure to remember that you can use both options simultaneously if you need to, and by using a codec with good compression and reducing the bitrate you should end up with video files that are much smaller.